Thursday, December 07, 2006

We Preach Christ and Sometimes Invite Bono?

"A Communion service driven by the music of singer Bono and his U2 bandmates is catching on at Episcopal churches across the country" claims a recent article on this little movement. (follow link for entire article: Our church band has employed U2 music in our worship services for several years now, but leave it to the Episcopals of New York to make it stick! I personally think the U2-charist’ movement, as it's being called, may turn out to be a very cool way to help people connect the reality God and His love to their mundane lives all over again.


As we say, "nothing changes unless something changes." Something in the Church has to change, especially the Church in America that has become so issue focused we’ve lost sight of Jesus we say we preach. We need something to cause us to again breathe the fresh air of celebration, focused on God rather than the stifled and stuffy air of everything normal. Maybe a change like this will help some who’ve grown "deaf and numb" in their particular worship circles to pay attention once again? One may think it strange to consider adapting U2 music for use in a worship setting, or even heretical for some reading this. I think change is good if more people consider the activity if their Creator in their lives, or hear the Good News with new ears, as a result. In fact, I think it’s a freakin’ stroke of genius, if not a direct act of the Spirit of God! The risk, of course, is in that Bono and the Edge have become Swami, and Side-kick for many of us music freaks. So, we can easily think we’re worshipping God when we’re simply getting into the emotional river with a very charismatic leader. Caution! We are challenged by Jesus in the Scripture to be Jesus freaks foremost. Remember, that "thou shalt have no other gods before me" thing?  


However, we should also remember that God is still after individuals and calling them to a personal relationship with Himself, and that worship is the blessing of reaching up to the One who reached to His wayward creation first. He did this in humble condescension, by jumping into a flesh-suit and suffering the distance from His Father that we will never experience. He ran to us first. His affection demonstrated by the birth, life and death of Jesus, the Son, causes a response in people with a pulse. We celebrate this condescension at Christmas time, if we don’t miss it by the helter-skelter shopping pace in which most engage beginning the last Friday of November!


This is really nothing new. Much of our conservative hymnody was the result of someone putting words about God that people could understand, with the music of popular - bar room tunes - known to those who needed Jesus. Martin Luther’s famous "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" (German, Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott for you purists!) is one example. Written for the masses in a popular tune, it was first tolerated with much trepidation from the Church’s deeply rooted religionists, but has since been called "The Battle Hymn of the Reformation!" Can’t you just see people swinging their mugs of German Barley-pop to a paraphrase of Psalm 46? I'm gonna be there! 


Maybe God is rewarding the sincerity of those worshipping Him, combined with some very suitable words that direct hearts to YAHWEH again? Maybe the "change is gonna do me good" thing really does work? Whatever the outcome may be, let's not be so myopic as to think that God may not use something outside of a largely dead church to reform Her again! After all, He IS God. And He’s done it before. For those of you who simply can’t be convinced that the lines of worship should be drawn by content, rather than by musical style, and that worship music can emerge from somewhere outside of a stoic church, I'm just going to repeat what a well-know pastor once said to a large audience after they heard that he had prepared a cigar dinner for his leadership staff after they had reached a particular goal: “lighten up!”  In love of course . . .  P/Rod